Remembering Browning

“Love, hope, fear, faith – these make humanity;
These are its sign and note and character.”

collection_5295_RobertBrowningRobert Browning was born in Camberwell on May 7th 1812 and educated by private tutors. His parents were wealthy enough to allow him to travel and to be a poet as if it were a profession. He came known by literary figures such s Wordsworth and Landor after the publication of “Paracelsus” in 1835, but he was unrecognized by the public until “Men an Women” appeared twenty years later. He was therefore almost unknown when in 1846 he eloped with Elizabeth Barrett.

He is now widely recognized as a master of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. Browning is perhaps best-known for a poem he didn’t value highly, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a children’s poem that is quite different from his other work. He is also known for his long form blank poem The Ring and the Book, the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books.

A long dramatic narrative poem, and, more specifically, a verse novel, of 21,000 lines. It was published in four volumes from 1868 to 1869 by Smith, Elder & Co.

The book tells the story of a murder trial in Rome in 1698, where an impoverished nobleman, Count Guido Franceschini, is found guilty of the murders of his wife Pompilia Comparini and her parents, having suspected his wife was having an affair with a young cleric.

“No, when the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something.”

“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.”


The love affair between two of the Victorian era’s most famous poets is one of passion, tragedy, illness, and ultimately, endurance. Collected here are their 573 love letters, which capture their courtship, their blossoming love, and their forbidden marriage.


Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.

Star Wars Fan Book Guide

131005-F-NZ143-040In a Galaxy not so far away Jedi fans of all varieties are celebrating Star Wars day.
So of course I’ve decided to come out of hiding and do a special Star Wars themed Mini Bean. This is for all those Science Fiction lovers of Galaxy Warfare and Stellar Adventures!  It just so happens that I have quite a cache of these books in my to-read list at the moment, so that works out nicely.

Star Wars worthy books and stellar sips, May the 4th be with you:

Foundation
by Isaac Asimov
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years.

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

There are 2 preludes to this series:
Prelude to Foundation and Forward to Foundation

rebel boostBook Bean: Rebel Booster
Brewed strong tea of choice (I prefer white tea) and red bull (can do sugar free red bull with 1 serving of grenadine) with a tish of grenadine (optional for the sweet tooth.) Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
AKA “Blade Runner”
by Philip K. Dick
Although I admit I was not a fan of the movie I have still always wanted to read this classic novel.
Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back, with lethal force.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

moonmochaBook Bean: Moon Mocha
Steamed or heated milk of choice (good with coconut milk), espresso shot, white chocolate syrup to taste (or can temper white chocolate chips and add to hot milk first, if syrup is unavailable, or use powder), top with whip cream (optional) and finish with a tsp of vanilla extract powder.

Battlefield Earth
by L. Ron Hubbard
From the ashes of humanity rises a young hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. Setting off on an initial quest to discover a hidden evil, Jonnie unlocks the mystery of humanity’s demise and unearths a crucial weakness in their oppressors.

Rated 4.6 on audible.com

Best of 2016 Science Fiction Audiobook
A very long book (1k pages depending on the version) so opting for the Audiobook may not be such a bad idea. 

jedi-juice.jpgBook Bean: Jedi Juice
1 cup pineapple, 1 large beetroot, 1 green apple, 1 cucumber, ½ lemon, and 1-inch fresh ginger. For those without a juicer use fresh and/or 100% juice alternatives with squeezed lemon and zest of ginger. This combination of juices is full of energy, super healthy, and tastes great too!

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
A world at stake – A quest for the ultimate prize – Are you ready?
This cult classic is all the rave right now because of the new movie. I haven’t seen the movie, so feel free to weigh in on which one is better. No spoilers though! I have it on good authority that the audible books is quite good on this one as well. If you haven’t read this yet and are a fan of the Genre, it is a classic and a must read.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

chewbaccachino

Book Bean: Chaibaccaccino
Frothy steamed milk, strong brewed coffee or espresso shot, with cinnamon (to taste,) sugar
(to taste,) a dash of clove and nutmeg stirred in, and lavishly topped with cocoa.

This is the story of a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

-not an Earth book, never published on Earth, and, until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or even heard of by any Earthman.

Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book!

Another classic by Douglas Adams
Read the original or go for the
all-in-one trilogy.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Also nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by The Great American Read

yodas-tea-e1525496072156.jpgBook Bean: Yoda’s Tea
Brewed Green tea (or matcha if preferred) with muddled mint leaves and honey to taste, garnish with lime (optional.) Good hot or cold it is.

We Are Legion
(We Are Bob)
by Dennis E. Taylor
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.
Also another great audiobook choice as it was named Audible’s Best Sci-Fi Book of 2016

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

images-e1525496694837.jpgBook Bean: The Dark Side Decaf 
Espresso roast coffee pulled or brewed  with a dash of cocoa powder (in the brew), pinch of salt and 2 tsp of sugar (optional and/or to taste.) Try sipping on this while nibbling some chocolate, Dark and Delectable!

Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card
Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who?
Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.

Of course I couldn’t leave out my favorite; this book is short and sweet, but amazing!

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Ender’s Game is an affecting novel.”―New York Times Book Review

full throttle


Book Bean: T
he Force Full Throttle
Medium roast coffee, with added espresso shot, a pinch of salt, 1-2 tsp of sugar, and 1-2 tbls of half n half (or to taste.)


I’ll end with a few books that are officially Star Wars.

D1nhxfncvcS._SL250_FMpng_Star Wars: Old Republic Trilogy 
Read by Marc Thompson
Written by varied authors
A trilogy basedon a popular video game; the best rated Trilogy out there (and the audible books are raved about!)

Revan
by Drew Karpyshyn
There’s something out there: a juggernaut of evil bearing down to crush the Republic – unless one lone Jedi, shunned and reviled, can stop it.
Rated 4.1 on audible.com
Deceived
by Paul S. Kemp
The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings listeners “face-to-face” for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords: Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith
Rated 4.1 on audible.com

and Fatal Alliance
by Sean Williams
Number-one New York Times best-selling author Sean Williams brings the world of the game to life in his latest novel, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance.
Rated 4.1 on audible.com

Darth Plagueis
by James Luceno
At long last, the Star Wars story of the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Plagueis and his apprentice, Darth Sidious, is revealed!
“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine,
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Arguably the best star wars book written, but please weigh in!

latteauleia.jpg
Latte au Leia:
Choice brewed coffee with cinnamon, steamed milk (if you don’t have a way to steam then heat and froth as best you can,) a tiny bit of caramel sauce stirred in, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. R.I.P Princess

379b9c7b7e9d5516362aed3512de5f14Well that’s it Star Wars fans, I hope you found it enjoyable and/or enlightening. Please share your relative favorites!

oh and for fun Disney dropped this official trailer today!

Profound Paragraphs XIII

“Up out of the lampshade, startled by the overhead light, flew a large nocturnal butterfly that began circling the room. The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below.”

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

With spring in the air, this bit of literary poetry sprang to mind.

What words from literature make you think of spring, or vice versa?

Spring Fling!

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Today is the first day of Spring and it is in full swing! The sun is shining bright and I am ready to get back into gear.
Here is What I’ve Been Sipping on this Spring:

Proof of Heaven
by Dr. Eben Alexander

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
This is a story that would be remarkable no matter who it happened to, but the unique and intriguing circumstances make it all the more enchanting. A highly trained and respected neurosurgeon contracts (mysteriously) an extremely rare brain disease, has an extensive and scientifically unexplained near death experience, and then miraculously makes a statistically impossible full recovery.
That it happened to Dr. Even Alexander makes it revolutionary. This is even truer of this new edition, in which he expands upon the lessons he learned from his experience, adding new insights and guidance for a world more in need of them than ever. Reading this book inspires a whole new way at looking at life and one’s self; that is both comforting and enthralling.

Playing with Fire
by Tess Gerritsen

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
I bought this book completely on a whim, because while purchasing it for a friend I read the first page and instantly knew it was my cuppa tea. This musically inspired thriller was also a romantic historical fiction.
It had an air of antique ambiance that I was quickly and completely absorbed in. To my surprise it also happened to take place in pre-WW2 Italy, did she write this just for me!

This book is deeply personal to the author and her musical background, which added an intimacy to the reading experience that was wonderful. The story also inspired/compelled her to compose a peace of music “Incendio” that has been performed by international violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.
One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

Here is a new go to favorite of mine I tried on my trip

Book Bean: Green Tea Lemonade

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Add some old school charm to your afternoon tea! Make some iced green tea and add a splash of homemade or prepared lemonade for a lightly sweet twist. Serve with lemon slices and mint leaves. Find a place under a tree or on a porch swing to lose yourself in a book while sipping this crisp and refreshing drink, and enjoy the added benefit of a healthy boost of energy!

Papillon
by Henri Charrière

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com
A young man called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious Devil’s Island, a place from which no one has ever escaped .
His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexander Dumas

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Dumas’ classic novel of wrongful imprisonment, adventure and revenge. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

I love Dumas’ storytelling; he is romantic, witty, and poetic, and yet the way he can spin an intriguing adventure cannot be matched! This story (as is customary to his writing) has it all.

I’ve also been trying this new coffee out, and it is fantastic

BookBean: Seabrook Blend
by Grounds for Change

images (2)

A perfect match for my current nautical reading selections! Full-bodied, rich, and so deliciously smooth; with noticeable notes of hazelnut and caramel that are a pleasant delight. Each cup is interesting and full of flavor and culture, a perfect blend.

So what have you been reading/sipping? Do share!

Mochas and Musketeers

Flamboyant heroes, adventure, riveting duels, and of course romance.

Alexandre Dumas and his swashbuckling Musketeers have fascinated for ages!

To honor Dumas on his birthday July 24th 1855, I wanted to share his many works featuring the most beloved comrades The Musketeers.

Here are the D’Artagnan Romances:

The Three MusketeersAn adventurous tale of the young man d’Artagnan. Leaving home to travel to Paris, d’Artagnan wishes to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He is not one of the musketeers of the title but befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis (inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all.”) This motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan, has become a most well known and loved signet. This a historical fiction full of memorable adventure and characters.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com 
Book Bean: Un café
A coffee, plain and simple, but not as we would have in the U.S. Order “Un Café”  and you will get a small cup of plain strong espresso.

Twenty Years Later
Two decades have passed since the musketeers triumphed over Cardinal Richelieu and Milady. Time has weakened their resolve, and dispersed their loyalties. However, treason and stratagem still cry out for justice: civil war endangers the throne of France, while in England Cromwell threatens to send Charles I to the scaffold. Dumas brings his immortal quartet out of retirement to cross swords with time, the malevolence of men, and the forces of history. But their greatest test is a titanic struggle with the son of Milady, who wears the face of Evil.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com 

chocolat-chaud-ouverture

Book Bean: Chocolat l’ancienne
Rich and decadent melted dark chocolate poured into cups, and served alongside it’s own separate dish of fresh whipped cream. So thick and creamy, I’ll have mine with Un café  please!

Ten Years Later: The Vicomte de Brabelonne
In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled “The Vicomte de Bragelonne”, “Louise de la Valliere”, and “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Each of these volumes is roughly the length of the original
The Three Musketeers.

Here they are in Three Volumes:

The Vicomte de Bragelonne
It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile.

4091536-late-coffee-with-chocolate-latte-coffee-with-white-chocolate-Stock-Photo

Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean:
 Cafè latte au Chocolat
Espresso with steamed milk and drizzled with
chocolate on top.


The Musketeers are now in their late 50’s.
They are still vital characters but they are no longer young men looking for any excuse to duel with the Cardinal’s Guard. From this point on, there is a lot less sword play and campaigning (Sorry Swashbuckler fans.)

The focus of the story now shifts to the intrigues of Louis XIV court.
Lousise de la Valliere
Devoted in large part to romantic events at the court of France’s King Louis XIV. It is filled with behind-the-scenes intrigue, the novel brings the aging Musketeers and d’Artagnan out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France.

Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Chocolat chaud
Otherwise known as good old Hot Cocoa 🙂

The Man in The Iron Mask
Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille

cafe_au_lait

Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Cafè au Lait
A coffee with hot milk added (In comparison to the Itallian caff
è latte.) In the U.S.  a café au lait is a drink of strong drip coffee or French pressed coffee, to which steamed milk is added.

Fun Fact: Two further sequels to the D’Artagnan books — the novels The Son of Porthos (1883) and D’Artagnan Kingmaker (1900) — were written and published after Dumas’s death. D’Artagnan does not appear in the first novel, which, although written by Paul Mahalin, was published under the pen name “Alexandre Dumas” and is still sold as such. The second novel was supposedly based on one of Dumas’ plays (wikipedia)

Have you read any or all of these novels? 
Please share your thoughts.

America in Literature II

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Here continues my list of quintessential American literary works:

PART II of II


The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien
A classic, life-changing meditation on war, memory, imagination, and

the redemptive power of storytelling

Rated 4.4 on amazon.com


Gone With the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell
Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

The Catcher in the Rye
By J.D. Salinger
A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation.
Wikipedia

Rated 4.0 on amazon.com

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com

Moby Dick

By Melville
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com


The Crucible

By Arthur Miller
Based on historical people and real events, Arthur Miller’s play uses the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence unleashed by the rumors of witchcraft as a powerful parable about McCarthyism.

Rated 4.1 on amazon.com


Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau
An essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Of Mice and Men

By John Steinbeck

Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.
Rated 4.4 on amazon.com

The Sound and The Fury
By William Faulkner
The tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

Rated 3.9 on amazon.com